Home > Uncategorized > BASEBALL Is Ichiro… over?

BASEBALL Is Ichiro… over?

As a longtime fan and admirer of Ichiro Suzuki I am just a little discombobulated by Ichiro’s batting average/BA hovering around .270 and on base average/OBA at about .315.  Ichiro no longer hits triples and never has been one to take a pitch that he can put wood on.

Is Ichiro over?

Hmph.

During the Saturday, 7/23 M’s vs. Sox battle M’s Mgr.Eric Wedge was asked by NESN what, if anything, was the matter with Ichiro.

Mr. Wedge repliedt hat Ichiro was preparing just as he ever did and that he expected Ichiro to hit as he has always done.

Then in the 5th. inning I saw Ichiro do something that I hadn’t seen from him before.  John Lackey threw a breaking pitch about ankle high and outside.  Ichiro slapped at it and the ball curved towards the left field stands and landed…fair.  Ichiro stood there watching until the ball hit the ground.

Ichiro has always rocketed out of the box.  With his bat trailing behind his front hip and his head going towards the catcher he resembled nothing so much as the LOONY LINKS toy of my youth.  Ichiro’s astonishing full body coordination enabled him to be almost out of the box at the millisecond of contact.

21st. Century baseball is plagued by hitters watching the ball.  Adrian Gonzalez has a stroke second to none but he seems transfixed by the flight of the ball to the extent that it might be costing him the occasional double.

Additionally all too many batters are in the habit or carrying or throwing the bat rather than merely dropping it.

Ichiro has always gone hard from the box dropping the bat with haste.

This fundamental skill has enabled Ichiro to beat out 100’s of seeing eye singles while leading the A.L. in hits 7 times per BASEBALL REFERENCE.COM.

Ichiro losing his drive?

I am loath to speculate on the mental state of someone I don’t know who excels at something I can’t do.

As a fan I can’t help but wonder if the M’s 2011 futility might have dampened Ichiro’s competitive fire.

On Sunday 7/24 the NESN replay of the M’s 15th consecutive loss saw Ichiro picked off 2nd. base after leaning the wrong way.  While Ichiro’s hitting technique is unique the other facets of his game have always been the type to make an 8th. Grade baseball coach proud.

As a memeber of SABR and Baseball-Fever.com I am all too  familiar with criticism of Ichiro.

To wit:

Ichiro “refuses” to hit for power because he hits HRs in batting practice.

-Having worked at Fenway Park in 2002 I can assure you that lots and lots of players hit HRs in batting practice.

Ichiro “refuses” to take pitches thus his OBA is lower than it should be.

-This is a bit like Allen Iverson’s Shooting %.  Allen Iverson could get a shot off with 1 second left on the 24 second clock while being double covered.  All too often the alternative for the 76ers squads that he played on would have been a 24 second violation.

Likewise Ichiro can put his bat on a bullet and get contact in situations where others can’t even swing.

Still…Ichiro watching a ball and getting out of the box slowly is certainly a negative anomaly.

Getting picked off 2nd is exactly the type of brain freeze that I have never seen from Ichiro.

Ichiro will be 38 in October.  He is in the midst of his 19th. season.  He went directly from high school to the Japanese national league before arriving stateside in 2001.  He has played 162 games twice and 161 games twice.  He is a slender not skinny 5’11’ 170 lbs.

Mental fatigue is a real possibility.  At this writing the M’s are on a 70 win pace.  This follows the 2010 101 loss debacle.  Attendance has declined from 2002’s  3.54 million to 2010’s 2.08 million PER BASEBALL REFERENCE.COM.

Ichiro makes $18 million.

Is this the beginning of the end…

…to be continued..?

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